More western U.S. wildfires in offing as temperatures rise

Posted: Jun 13, 2012

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Climate change will make wildfires in the western United States more frequent throughout the next three decades, according to a new report out today.

By 2100, almost all of North America and most of Europe will experience wildfires more often, the study said, as wildfires rage on in a number of states.

The study, published in the journal Ecosphere, looked at satellite-based fire cords and 16 climate change models. The international team of scientists that conducted the study found that wildfires will increase in several temperate zones because of rising temperatures.

At the same time, fire risk may decrease around the equator because of increased rainfall.

"In the long run, we found what most fear -- increasing fire activity across large areas of the planet," said lead author Max Moritz, a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. "But the speed and extent to which some of these changes may happen is surprising. These abrupt changes in fire patterns not only affect people's livelihoods, but also they add stress to native plants and animals that are already struggling to adapt to habitat loss."

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